I signed up for Hulu on Cyber Monday at an unbelievable deal of $12/yr. This of course is their commercial tier, but it was worth it to give Hulu a shot. Currently, Hulu runs commercials in 2 ways. The first is one big commercial before the show, or multiple commercial breaks during the show. You can of course pay for a no commercial tier if you like Hulu, and I suggest you do that, if you don't like the commercials. But during your trial period you might want to help speed up a few of those commercial breaks,before you decide to pay for that higher tier. Here is how I do that when watching content through the Chrome web browser.
What I'm basically doing is using a browser extension that can skip through HTML5 video streams. Since all of Hulu uses HTML5 video (even the commercials), you can use hotkeys to skip however many seconds you want of video. This works during the playback of the show, and during the commercials as well. I'm telling you this because if you can find a browser plugin/add-on that can skip through HTML5 video, then you can do this same thing on other browsers.
Go over to the Chrome store or the Firefox Add-ons site, and download and install the extension called "Video Speed Controller". After installing it click on the red icon and select "Settings" button. In the "Other" section you will see "Rewind Time (s)" and "Advanced Time (s)". Set Advance Time to 14 and Rewind to 10. Feel free to play with these values as needed. These values are set to hotkeys "z" (rewind) and "x" (forward). The hotkeys are of course changeable. Also, if your going to watch your videos at regular speed, set your "Preferred Speed (x)" to something like 4. Then you can hit the "g" hotkey and speed up the commercials that way. The g hotkey is a toggle so it will go back and forth from regular speed to whatever speed you set it to. Jump out of the settings back to your browser.
Go over to Hulu's site and pull up a show and start to watch it. You will see the video speed controller on your screen in the top left (there is a setting that removes this). After starting the show wait for your first commercial. You will see the commercial countdown timer come on the screen from Hulu. This is where you can start hitting the "x" key on the keyboard which will start the skip forward. They can cram up to 4 commercials into one slot, each with a different lengths of time. Usually the shortest commercial time I have seen is 15 seconds, hence the 14 second skip setting. If you try to hit the skip button to fast you will not allow the next commercial to start playing, and it seems to skip back to the beginning of the commercial. This seems that this work best if you let each commercial finish cleanly, and transition to the next commercial, before starting to skip through the next commercial in the slot.
After skipping through the commercials, you will notice that your show is about 1 or 2 mins ahead of the commercial skip point. You can use the "z" key on the keyboard to skip back to where the commercial started, or just use your mouse and place the cursor at the beginning of the commercial break point (the break points have lines you can clearly see).
Another way to get through these commercials is using that "g" hotkey we setup which will speed the video up the instead of trying to skip through it. If you use this approach, just hit the g key when the commercial starts and it will start playing very quickly. Watch the countdown timer on the screen. When it gets close to 0 hit the "g" key again and it will go back to regular speed. You still have to watch the commercials, but you can watch them at 4x or whatever speed you set this to. A hell of a lot faster than 1x speed.
I just started using this method to get through these commercials, and it is not perfect, but it does get through the commercials a whole lot faster than any other method I've seen. Other methods try to block the commercials or skip through them, but the seem like to much trouble than this one. Of course the easiest way to not have to deal with Hulu commercials is just to pay for them to go away, which I hope you do. Until then, this should help you decide if you want to pay for that tier, and get you through those pesky commercials with the least aggravation.
I have always been interested in Netflix streaming, but I could not get over not being able to adjust the playback speed. That and the movie selection stinks (out of 159 titles in my queue only 40 are available to be streamed). I still tried streaming for 30 days and really liked some of the original content Netflix had. During that time I did not find any native way to adjust the playback speed in their html5 player. This really stinks as I am used to watching video with Vlc, YouTube, and MythTV all of which allow for playback speed adjustment up to 2x. It is hard to watch anything at lower speeds anymore. After a bit more searching I finally found a way to change the playback speed in Netflix streaming video.
After much searching I found an Google Chrome extension called Video Speed Controller, which allows for the speedup of html5 video streams in the browser. Netflix has an html5 player so this works with Netflix streams. Hooray!! The speedup stream does not have any buffering issues and I've watched many things on with 2x playback without issue. Unfortunately you can't use this anywhere other than the browser. Come on Netflix please add playback speed adjust to all of your players on all platforms!!!
Beware that when speeding up video you will need to make sure your video card can handle the higher frame rates. When I stream a video file from local storage with a local program like Vlc at 2x, it is very smooth, without much jitter or video tearing. When streaming content from Netflix or YouTube or other sites using this browser plugin you are using the browser as the video player, and it might not be as clean of an experience. You might notice some more jitter in the video and some frame tearing on fast moving scenes. This usually happens if your hardware can't keep up rendering the video or if hardware acceleration is not enabled.
My testing for this is being done on Linux with Google Chrome using the accelerated Nvidia Drivers with a GeForce GT 520 a video card from 2011. What I had to do to get rid of the jitter and tearing is turn hardware acceleration on in Chrome. Google seems to be very careful about whether or not they turn on hardware acceleration. They usually don't turn it on unless they know for sure it will work. Mine was not turned on even though I had a video card that supported acceleration and the correct drivers. Chromes detection of this might not be the best or Google did not think the drivers for this were stable enough. What is great is you can turn this on anyways and it works great.
To see if your hardware acceleration is already turned on or not type "chrome://gpu" in your Chrome URL bar. If it's turned off you will likely see lots of red text indicating so. Look for "Video decode" and see if it says "Disabled". If so you will need to turn it on. If it says "Hardware accelerated" then your good and can skip the rest of this paragraph. To turn on the hardware acceleration in the Chrome URL bar type "chrome://flags". The first setting says "Override software rendering list". Click the "Enable" to turn on the override. Then restart Chrome. Go back to "chrome://gpu" and see if it says "Video decode: Hardware accelerated". If so go try to watch a movie again or a YouTube video and it should be much smoother and likely have less tearing. If you don't have less tearing, go into your video driver config and make sure you have Sync to VBlank enabled. Mine is in my Nvidia X server settings manager then under "OpenGL settings"-> Performance. Check the box "Sync to VBlank".
Netflix provides some hidden menus for stats and changing bit rates of your streams. Here are some different ones to try.I tried these using Chrome on Linux. They all worked for me.